.Why Santa Cruz is a Place Like No Other

Lakeside Organic Gardens is the country’s largest family-owned-and-operated organic grower-shipper and is one of many reasons Santa Cruz County stands out

With apologies to Julie Andrews, a few of my favorite things (Google it, youngsters) converge for the 2023’s Summer Sustain Supper, the annual fundraiser for the Homeless Garden Project. 

HGP is one of those things. Their pioneering work equips those without shelter with the tools, safety and support to find their footing—while filling the area’s first organic CSA subscription boxes (!) and two gift shops with stylish handmade salves, teas, hand-dipped candles and cookie mixes (!!)—is something that I hope is replicated across the country, and has already started in Oregon.

The June 17 supper features a multicourse dinner by standout local chefs using produce grown steps away, with live music, wine and tours—Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau Executive Director Jess Brown emcees. 

Favorite thing #2 is Dick Peixoto of Lakeside Organic Gardens, head of the country’s largest family-owned-and-operated organic grower-shipper, who will deliver the supper’s keynote on sustainability. That will be grounded in his work out of Watsonville, where Lakeside tends 50-plus varieties year-round—more at homelessgardenproject.org

Also appearing in Watsonville: favorite thing #3, California Grill and Bar. That spot tucks all sorts of different favorite things within it—big-value country breakfasts, robust burgers, formidable artichoke-crab cakes, a solid happy hour—but the most transcendent element is that all of the produce on the menu is provided by Peixoto partner spot Lakeside Organic.

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That means the eye-popping rundown of salads—like the Asian chicken salad, organic salmon salad, grilled skirt steak salad and shrimp Louie, a dozen all told—are delivered directly from the farm.

California Grill was voted Best Watsonville Restaurant in the 2023 edition of Best of Santa Cruz, on stands now—it deserves consideration for Best Salads, to. More at lakesideorganic.com and californiagrillrestaurant.com


Two doses of progress brought by Northern California tastemakers, in ascending order of importance. One: The Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park (favorite things alert!) will bring a lot of on-stage action to its 15th edition with headliners Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Odesza. It will also unload its largest-ever restaurant lineup. The food scene last year was a festival unto itself. I can’t wait to see what unfolds this year. Two: A newly formed union at an Oakland Trader Joe’s on the border of Berkeley was certified by the National Labor Relations Board after employees at the store last month became the first in the chain to unionize in California (employee empowerment = a favorite thing).


Nancy Singleton Hachisu appears at 7pm Tuesday, May 16, at Bookshop Santa Cruz (favorite thing ding ding!) to discuss her new book. The event is free, but registration is recommended at bookshopsantacruz.com. Bonus point if you guessed that Japanese vegetarian food is one of my favorite things. (*Sang in Julie Andrews voice*) Then I don’t feel…so…bad.

Follow Mark C. Anderson at @MontereyMCA


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